Russian deepfake of Vladimir Putin declaring martial law
Millions of Russians were left petrified of a full-scale attack by Ukraine on Monday as an unknown assailant “hacked” the Russian media and broadcast a deep fake message from Vladimir Putin in which the autocrat appeared to declare martial law. First appearing as a radio broadcast, a video message purporting to show the Russian autocrat later found its way onto the nation’s state media, with dozens of clips of the emergency appeal reposted around social media.
In the message, Putin said Ukrainian troops had “entered the territories of Kursk, Belgorod and Bryansk”, all of which border eastern Ukraine, and that he was declaring martial law.
The announcement, sounding like an official broadcast from Putin, said: “Fellow citizens, brothers and sisters, at 4am today Ukrainian troops, armed to the teeth by the NATO bloc, with approval and support from Washington, have entered the territories of Kursk, Belgorod and Bryansk regions.
“Our border guards and Armed Forces are fighting back the superior troops of the aggressor. My order introduced martial law in Kursk, Belgorod and Bryansk regions.
“Also today, I will sign a law [to declare] general mobilisation because in order to fight a dangerous and treacherous enemy we would need to unite all forces of the Russian Federation.
“I am asking residents of Kursk, Belgorod and Bryansk regions to evacuate deeper into Russia, maintaining order and peace.”
The broadcast added: “Strictly follow orders by local military administration while leaving your living place, to give the Russian army the chance to defend Russian land from Ukrainian Nazis. The enemy will be destroyed, the victory will be ours.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov admitted the Russian media had been caught out and branded the special Putin broadcast a “hack”.
“Experts have already taken control and eliminated the hack, due to which some TV networks showed ‘Putin’s emergency appeal’,” said Peskov.
While it remains unclear who was behind the attack, Russian officials immediately blamed Ukraine.
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It appeared TV channels had repeated the message after it was first broadcast on FM radio stations across at least Belgorod, Rostov and Voronezh regions.
The latest hack across a wide area of western Russia increases the feeling that Putin’s government is losing control.
Ironically, though, the ‘Putin broadcast’ promoted calls among the autocrat’s most ardest supporters to properly announce mass mobilisation and martial law.
Putin has so far resisted such moves fearing a backlash from Russians already suffering from his ill-conceived war.
When he announced a partial mobilisation of 300,000 military reservists last September, tens of thousands of Russians, many of whom were of fighting age, fled the country within 48 hours to avoid being called up.
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An earlier hack today led to a Ukrainian defence ministry video being broadcast in annexed Crimea taunting residents over the timing of Kyiv’s expected counter offensive.
While Ukraine has not commented on the attacks officially, an advisor to the interior ministry joked that Putin was preparing for a future “message about capitulation”.
Anton Geraschenko shared multiple videos showing the deepfake announcement on Telegram. He captioned the post: “What they heard caused genuine panic among Russians: in the second year of the war, people had no confidence in the government and its ability to ensure the safety of citizens.
“Maybe Putin has already prepared a message about capitulation for the future?”
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